PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Fleas are, unfortunately, one of the most common and quite possibly the most irritating of parasites on both dogs and cats. They thrive on the warmth of a dog or cat’s skin and coat. Fortunately, they don’t have wings but they can jump from host to host. The worst part is that they can live off your pet’s body by biting and surviving off your pet’s blood supply. They can live for several months and can reproduce quickly; deposit their eggs and continue the cycle over and over again.

Look for evidence of fleas with signs of “flea dirt”, or excrement, which looks like specks of pepper scattered on the skins surface, most often under the belly area of your dog or cat. When moistened these specks will turn a reddish color, which is really the flea dirt residue from your pet’s blood.

Sometimes the reaction to flea bites can be severe for your pet due to an allergic reaction. It can lead to hair loss, rashes and secondary skin infections. Cats can be infected by accidentally ingesting them while grooming and it can cause anemia or even death to puppies and kittens. The cat flea also carries the larval stage of a tapeworm, so it’s important to provide a safe but effective flea preventative for your pet.

Check with your vet for one that’s safe for your dog or cat. Remember to wait a few days after applying before giving your pet a bath so that the treatment can work effectively. Prevention is truly the best cure for these pests.

Reported By Nan Talleno, KYW Newsradio

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